Parliament in the Spanish autonomous community of Catalonia has voted to ban bullfighting throughout the region.
The vote was 67-59, with some members casting their anonymous votes by hunching over their desks to hide their fingers from photographers.
Spanish rightists screamed that the ban was akin to outlawing tapas, but 180,000 Catalans—three times the required minimum—had signed petitions to place the measure before parliament. That body will cast a final vote on the ban in May, after hearing from a parade of pontificators, to include prominent bull-killer Luis Francisco Esplá, who wishes to continue slaughtering the animals, and former matador Álvaro Múnera, who wants the killing to end.
Bullfighting was first banned in the Canary Islands in the mid-1990s; it was expected that Catalonia would be the next Spanish region to leave off ritually butchering bulls.
Over the past three decades, bullring after bullring has closed in major Catalan towns such as Gerona, Lloret de Mar and Tarragona, and in Barcelona only one of the original three rings remains. As far back as 1909, Barcelona hosted Spain’s first anti-bullfighting protest, and by 2004 more than 80 per cent of Catalans were opposed to the practice. “Banning the bulls in Catalonia would be like drawing up a death certificate for a long-dead corpse,” said Juan Ilian, a leading Spanish bullfighting correspondent for nearly five decades. “And even if they don’t, it’ll remain on its deathbed.”
Bull-butchers are increasingly forced to confront human beings in the ring, who, like the woman pictured above, arrive bearing signs reading “Abolition.”